To millions around the world, Jerome Bettis is known as "The Bus," the powerful retired Pittsburgh Steelers runningback. He's also a role model.
On Saturday, hundreds of children—all with stars in their eyes—visited with Bettis, their hero, as he read Dr. Seuss' book, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
"That was one of my favorites when I was a kid," Bettis told Plum-Oakmont Patch. "Whenever I have a chance to read to kids, I read that book because it reminds me of when I was a kid."
Panera Bread partnered with Bettis and The Bus Stops Here Foundation to help Pittsburgh’s underprivileged youth. Bettis visited the Penn Center Panera Café in Wilkins and the Waterfront Panera Café in Homestead for a free storytime and a meet-and-greet.
Panera donated $5 to The Bus Stops Here Foundation for each person who attended the event. Some people also brought books, which will be donated to Children's Hospital.
The Bus Stops Here Foundation provides at-risk youth with resources to learn to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy choices. Its programs focus on health and nutrition; social living skills; and drug awareness and prevention.
Bettis said he was so happy to see the response of the community.
"It's about the spirit of giving right now," he said. "It's Christmas time, and to see people coming out with books in hand to donate to a great cause touches my heart."
This story originally appeared on Plum-Oakmont Patch.